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Welcome to the Cypher

Welcome to the Cypher

By Khodi Dill
Illustrated by Awuradwoa Afful
Interest Age: 4–7
Grade: p–2
Reading Level:
Common Core Correlations
CCSS.ELA-Literacy Strand-Reading literature:

Reading Level: Lexile AD590L
Hardcover (Picture book) : 9781773215631, 32 pages, November 2021 , 9.75" x 10.50"


Words burn bright in this joyful celebration of rap, creativity, and self-expression.

“Welcome to the cypher!

Now huddle up nice and snug.

You feel that circle around you?

Well, that’s a hip hop hug!” 

Starting with beatboxes and fingersnaps, an exuberant narrator introduces kids in his community to the powerful possibilities of rap, from turning “a simple phrase/into imagery that soars” to proclaiming, “this is a voice that represents me!” As Khodi Dill’s rhymes heat up, the diverse crew of kids—illustrated in Awuradwoa Afful’s bold, energetic style—gain self-confidence and a sense of freedom in this wonderful picture book debut that is perfect for reading aloud.  


“With a cadence and beat in the text itself, and accompanied by energetic illustrations, this will make an affirming addition to a poetry or music unit . . . encouraging readers to find within themselves “a voice that represents me!””

- School Library Journal, *starred review, 11/21

“This lovely book is all about being brave, stepping up, and being heard. ”

- Booklist, 10/15/21

“A fun read-aloud and a safe introduction to hip-hop as a pathway to healthy child development. ” 

- Kirkus Reviews, 07/27/21

“Dill has created a wonderful story that shines a light on an art form that is rarely represented in literature, particularly in children’s literature. The rhyming syntax makes WELCOME TO THE CYPHER a great book to read aloud and for readers to interact with. This wonderful and fun story encourages kids to be themselves and to support one another to speak up for what they believe in. This book is recommended for school-aged children and would be perfect to be read aloud in the classroom and shared with friends and family. Highly Recommended. ” 

- CM Reviews, 09/03/21

“WELCOME TO THE CYPHER is a delight to read—a story that will move every part of you to a wild and wonderful beat. ”

- Jael Richardson, Author and Executive Director, The Festival of Literary Diversity, 09/21